Law

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

How The US Supreme Court Influenced Black History

Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857).

Brown v. Board of Education argued by Thurgood Marshall (1954).

Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978)...just 3 of 10 landmark Supreme Court decisions that influenced black history in the USA.

Caryn Freeman highlights 10 cases in a colorful slide show “Supreme Court cases that shaped black America.” Take a look!  (Thurgood Marshall is pictured here).


Posted by Hugh Smith on 09/26 at 06:39 PM
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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Black History People Android App

Black History People Android AppDiscover the profiles of nearly 100 black history people in the free Black History People App for Android smart phones.

Authors, poets, civil rights, politics, education, sports, entertainment, art, business, inventors, law, medicine, science, aviation, and music are categories you can explore in the app.

You can Download the Black History People App directly to your Android smart phone using the web browser in your phone.  Install it after downloading.

If you use a Blackberry, iPhone, or a full featured cell phone with a web browser…no problem.  The app exists as it’s own website at BHP365.mobi.


Posted by Hugh Smith on 05/11 at 09:45 PM
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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Arthur, Clarence, and Parren Mitchell Go to Washington

Arthur, Clarence, and Parren Mitchell, (no relationship), are three former members of the U.S. Congress who combined social activism with legislative power.

Arthur W. Mitchell, (1886-1968), was the first black Democrat elected to the U.S. Congress (1934 - 1943).

Mitchell studied under Booker T. Washington at Tuskegee Institute.  The Congressman, representing the First Congressional District of Illinois, received his law school instruction at Columbia and Harvard.

Clarence Mitchell, (1911-1984), earned the nickname the “101st. Senator,” thanks to his effective lobbying efforts for civil rights.

His influence helped pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  Mitchell helped extend a ban against voting literacy tests in 1970.

He was instrumental in gaining enforcement powers for the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) in 1972.  President Jimmy Carter awarded Mitchell the Medal of Freedom in 1980 for his lifetime battle for civil rights.

Parren Mitchell was the first African American to be elected to Congress from Maryland’s 7th District in 1970.  He became Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus in 1976.

In 1950, he challenged the University of Maryland in the courts to become the school’s first black graduate student.

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Posted by Hugh Smith on 09/24 at 08:00 AM
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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Thurgood Marshall's Mark on Black History

July 2, 2008, is the centennial of the birth of former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who passed away in 1993.

For more about Thurgood Marshall, check out our feature: 20 black history attorneys take the law into their own hands.

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Posted by Hugh Smith on 07/02 at 07:45 AM
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Monday, February 04, 2008

5 African Americans who Changed the World

Here are 5 outstanding African Americans who made contributions during the 20th century to change our world.  These 5 black history people usually rise to the top in the spotlight during black history month.


1) Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


Martin Luther King Jr. is the father of the modern civil rights movement.  He was born Michael Luther King, January 15, 1929, in Atlanta Georgia.

Dr. King earned his Ph.D. from Boston University in 1955 (a Doctorate in Theology).

He married Coretta Scott King in 1953.  The young 26 year-old Martin organized the Montgomery bus boycott with the Reverend Ralph David Abernathy and the NAACP in 1955 after Rosa Parks refused to surrender her bus seat to whites.

King became the first leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957.  By 1961, he was supporting freedom rides to integrate Southern lunch counters and rest rooms.

His famous “I Have a Dream Speech” was delivered on the Washington D.C. mall in 1963.  King won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.  He was assassinated in 1968 as he was preparing to lead a labor protest march on behalf of sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee.


2) Rosa Parks


The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1956 that segregation on common carrier buses was illegal.  The decision was reached primarily because of the Montgomery bus boycott that lasted one year.

Rosa Parks, an African American seamstress, refused to surrender her seat to a white passenger (December 1, 1955).  Arrested for her act, Parks eventually found justice in the courts.

In 1999, President Bill Clinton presented her with the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor for a U.S. civilian.


3) Thurgood Marshall


Thurgood Marshall, (1908-1993), was born in Baltimore, Maryland.  “Mr. Civil Rights,” changed history in 1954 when he successfully argued Brown vs. the Board of Education before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Brown case outlawed segregation in schools.

Marshall was educated at Lincoln University and Howard Law School.  He began practicing law in 1933, became assistant special counsel for the NAACP in 1936, then chief counsel in 1938.

He was the first director/chief counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (1940-1961).

In 1961, President John Kennedy appointed him Second Circuit United States Court of Appeals judge.  By 1965 he was appointed solicitor general in the Department of Justice.

Marshall was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Lyndon Johnson in 1967 becoming the first African American on the court.

Thurgood Marshall is considered the most prominent civil rights lawyer of the 20th Century.


4) Jackie Robinson


U.S. Army Lieutenant and former UCLA football great Jackie Robinson (1919-1972), entered major league baseball in 1945 by signing a contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers’ farm team, the Montreal Royals.

Robinson, the first ever black player at the start of the 1947 season, was one of three African Americans on the roster of a major league baseball franchise by the end of 1947 (joined by Larry Doby of the Cleveland Indians, and Henry Thompson of the St. Louis Browns).


5) Muhammad Ali


Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Clay on January 17, 1942, won an Olympic gold medal in Rome as a light heavy weight in 1960.

He defeated Sonny Liston in 1964 to win the heavy weight championship for the first time.  Ali won the crown again in 1974 by beating George Foreman.

"The Greatest” became the first in boxing history to win the heavy-weight title three times when he took out Leon Spinks in 1978.

Ali refused to be drafted into the U.S. Army (he was a conscientious objector on religious and moral grounds).  He was stripped of his first title in 1967.

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Posted by Hugh Smith on 02/04 at 01:02 AM
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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

20 Black History Attorneys Take the Law into their own Hands

During the golden age of the civil rights movement, a prestigious law degree meant ambitious graduates had a powerful new tool to use to help facilitate social change.  Challenges to the legal system could be channeled through the courts by a new generation of activists and leaders.

Here are 20 people in black history who took advantage of their law degrees to move society forward.

  1. Dr. Sadie Tanner Alexander was the first black woman graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, 1927.  She was the first Black woman admitted to the Philadelphia Bar Association.

  2. Justice Jane M. Bolin, a graduate of Wellesley College and the Yale Law School, was appointed judge to the Court of Domestic Relations in New York City by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia on July 22, 1939.  Her appointment made her America’s first African American woman judge.

  3. Patricia R. Harris, (1924-1985), was an African American woman of many firsts.  She was the first black woman in charge of an American embassy as Ambassador to Luxembourg in 1965.  She graduated from Howard University in Washington D.C., earned her Masters from the University of Chicago, and her law degree from George Washington Law School.  She’s excelled as a civil rights advocate, law judge, and law firm partner.

  4. Judge William H. Hastie, (1904-1976), was the first African American federal judge.  He was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, and raised in Washington, D.C.  Hastie earned his law degree from Amherst College, and a Ph.D. in juristic science from the Harvard Law School.  His outstanding career is marked by numerous achievements: faculty member of the Howard Law School, Assistant Solicitor of the Department of Interior, Dean of the Howard Law School, youngest U.S. Federal judge at age 32 (1936).

  5. Benjamin L. Hooks became the first black criminal court judge in Tennessee in 1965.  He was the first African American member of the Federal Communications Commission in 1972.  In 1977, Hooks succeeded Roy Wilkins to become Executive Director of the nation’s top civil rights organization, the NAACP.  Rev. Hooks earned his law degree from De Paul University in 1949.  Early in his career he was a public defender, a politician, a Baptist minister, and a vice president of a saving and loan association.

  6. Charles H. Houston, (1895-1950), was a premier constitutional lawyer and civil rights pioneer.  Under his watch as Dean at the Howard University Law School, many great lawyers were educated, including future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Houston is credited with planing the strategy (before his death) for the landmark Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court by Thurgood Marshall in 1954).

  7. Jane Edna Hunter, (1882-1971), founded the Phillis Wheatley Association in 1911, and the Phillis Wheatley Foundation Scholarship fund for black students.  This South Carolinian achieved law school success, including passing the Ohio state bar.  Jane Edna Hunter was an inspirational role model for her community.

  8. Barbara Charlene Jordan, (1936-1996), from Houston, Texas, graduated from Texas Southern University in 1956, and from Boston University Law School in 1959.  Jordan was elected to the Texas State Senate in 1966, becoming the state’s first black Senator since 1883.  She was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and spent six successful years there (1973-1978).  In 1982, she stepped away from national politics to become a professor at the Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas in Austin.

  9. Vernon E. Jordan Jr. has had a colorful career as a noted civil rights leader and as a powerful Washington, D.C. lawyer.  He earned his law degree from Howard University in 1960.  In the 60’s he was quite involved with civil rights as Field Secretary for Georgia’s NAACP.  In 1971, Jordan became National Director of The Urban League.  He quit the Urban League in 1981 to practice law full time.

  10. Amayla Kearse was the first woman named to the Federal Appeals Court in New York.  President Jimmy Carter nominated her to the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 1979.  Kearse, a respected judge, earned her law degree from the University of Michigan.

  11. Thurgood Marshall, (1908-1993), changed history in 1954 when he successfully argued Brown vs. the Board of Education before the U.S. Supreme Court.  The Brown case outlawed segregation in schools.  He was educated at Lincoln University and Howard Law School.  Marshall began practicing law in 1933, became assistant special counsel for the NAACP in 1936, then chief counsel in 1938.  He was the first director/chief counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (1940-1961).  In 1961, President John Kennedy appointed him Second Circuit United States Court of Appeals judge.  By 1965 he was appointed solicitor general in the Department of Justice.  Marshall was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Lyndon Johnson in 1967 becoming the first African American on the court.  Marshall is considered the most prominent civil rights lawyer of the 20th Century.

  12. Judge Wade Hampton McCree was nominated U.S. Solicitor General in 1977 by President Jimmy Carter.  President Lyndon Johnson appointed him to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1966.  President John F. Kennedy named him to a U.S. District Court Judge seat in 1961.  McCree, a World War II veteran, is a graduate of Fisk University and Harvard Law School.

  13. Arthur W. Mitchell, (1886-1968), was the first black Democrat elected to the U.S. Congress (1934 - 1943).  Mitchell studied under Booker T. Washington at Tuskegee Institute.  The Congressman, representing the First Congressional District of Illinois, received his law school instruction at Columbia and Harvard.

  14. Attorney Constance Baker Motley, (1921 - 2005), started her brilliant civil rights career with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in 1945 as a law clerk.  She was educated at Fisk, New York University, and Columbia Law School.  Motley was an Assistant Counsel by 1950.  She was part of the law team to win Brown vs. The Board of Education in 1954.  Motley successfully argued James Meredith vs. The University of Mississippi in 1962.  She was elected a New York State Senator in 1964, and became the first black woman to hold the position of borough President of Manhattan in 1965.  In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson appointed her to a seat as the first African American woman Federal District Judge.  Her bench was in the Southern District of New York.

  15. Dr. Pauli Murray, graduate of Howard University Law School, received her Doctorate from Yale.  In 1945, she was the first African American to serve as Deputy Attorney General in California.  Dr. Murray, active in civil rights, became an ordained Episcopal Priest in 1977.

  16. Judge James B. Parsons was the first African American Federal Judge in the United States. (1961).  Judge Parsons presided over U.S. District Court in Chicago, Illinois.  He received his law degree from the University of Chicago.

  17. Howard University graduate Vel Phillips was the first African American woman to receive a law degree from the University of Wisconsin.  The Milwaukee native became Wisconsin’s first woman elected Secretary of State.

  18. Princeton New Jersey’s famous graduate Paul Robeson (1898-1976) is best known as the consummate “Renaissance Man.” He spoke or read over 20 languages, including Russian and Chinese.  Robeson may have been the most internationally famous African American in the 1930’s.  He carved out a lasting legacy as a world class artist, activist, singer, actor, lawyer, and athlete.  A Phi Beta Kappa Rutgers University graduate and a Columbia Law School graduate, Robeson was the first African American “All American."

  19. Judge Edith Sampson was born in Meadville, Pennsylvania.  She was the first woman to earn a law degree from Loyola University.  Sampson was the first African American United Nations delegate (appointed by President Harry Truman in 1950).  Judge Sampson was the first black woman elected to the U.S. Circuit Court of Cook County (Chicago) bench in 1962.

  20. Harold Washington, (1922-1987), was Chicago’s first black Mayor (1983). He graduated from Northwestern University in 1952 with a law degree and worked as a lawyer for the city of Chicago from 1954-1958.  Washington became an arbitrator for the Illinois Industrial Commission between 1960-1964.  In 1965, he was voted into his first elected office serving six terms in the Illinois State Legislature (1965-1976).

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Posted by Hugh Smith on 08/22 at 07:30 PM
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